Alonso tops first practice in Canada

Ferrari driver outpaces Mercedes drivers at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as Vettel is fourth fastest.

Fernando Alonso finished the opening practice session of the Canadian Grand Prix weekend at the top of the timesheet, the Ferrari beating out Mercedes rivals Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, who were second and third respectively. Sebastian Vettel was fourth-fastest for Red Bull Racing.

Alonso set a best lap of 1:17.238 to finish just under two hundredths of a second ahead of Hamilton whose best time of 1:17.254 was over a tenth of a second clear of team-mate Rosberg.

The top three were well clear of the rest of the field, with Vettel’s fourth-placed time being just under a second adrift of Alonso’s benchmark. Valtteri Bottas was fifth for Williams, the Finn exploiting the Mercedes engine that is expected to make the difference on the long, fast straights of the Montreal circuit. Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull was sixth fastest. The Milton Keynes-based team have already admitted they are expecting a difficult weekend due to the deficit their Renault power unit has to the pacesetting Mercedes.

Ricciardo was followed by the McLarens of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen, while Kimi Raikkonen was ninth in the second Ferrari, some 1.3s down on his team-mate. The top 10 order was completed by Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne, who eclipsed rookie team-mate Daniil Kvyat by more than half a second around the daunting, high-speed track.

As ever, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve’s close walls played a part in the session. With little grip available from the temporary track, several drivers had close brushes with the barriers. Most got away with minimal contact but Marussia’s Jules Bianchi was caught out and the Frenchman struck the wall on the exit on the exit of turn four sustaining damage to the right rear of his car. Bianchi eventually limped back to the pits for repairs.

Felipe Massa had few chances to test the limits of the circuit. The Brazilian completed just seven laps during the session.

2014 Canadian Grand Prix – Free Practice One Times
1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:17.238  21
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:17.254 0.016 25
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:17.384 0.146 32
4 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 1:18.131 0.893 28
5 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:18.361 1.123 20
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:18.435 1.197 26
7 Jenson Button McLaren 1:18.446 1.208 33
8 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:18.514 1.276 31
9 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:18.578 1.340 15
10 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:18.643 1.405 14
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:18.733 1.495 30
12 Sergio Perez Force India 1:18.959 1.721 22
13 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:19.108 1.870 24
14 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:19.142 1.904 32
15 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:19.177 1.939 21
16 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:19.340 2.102 37
17 Felipe Massa Williams 1:19.575 2.337 7
18 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:19.804 2.566 15
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:20.200 2.962 15
20 Max Chilton Marussia 1:20.844 3.606 26
21 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:21.404 4.166 33
22 Alexander Rossi Caterham 1:21.757 4.519 27